Forced whimsy, insufficient stellar chemistry mar ‘My Lady Boss’
Marian Rivera and Richard Gutierrez make a pretty pair—unfortunately, gorgeous actors don’t a satisfying rom-com automatically make. Jade Castro’s “My Lady Boss” generates little heat, not only from its mismatched lead actors, but also because of its overwrought humor and annoying, look-we’re-kwela ensemble.
On paper, the love story of Zach Strella (Gutierrez) and Evelyn Lontoc (Rivera) brims with promise: Irresponsible rich guy is forced to take orders from his loud, by-the-numbers lady boss to prove to his family that there’s more to him than his good looks—and a disturbing list of failed investments!
But, opposites attract—and it doesn’t take long for the boss from hell to become the object of the eligible bachelor’s affection and attention, especially after Zach sees what’s behind Evelyn’s toothless barks.
They’re drawn even closer to each other when he helps her accomplish the items on her bucket list: Go skydiving, kiss a stranger, dance the lambada, learn to hula hoop, read all of Jane Austen’s novels, etc.
On the rebound
There’s a slight wrinkle to the duo’s budding romance, however: Evelyn is on the rebound from an impatient ex-fiancé, Tim (Tom Rodriguez), who begrudges her ceaseless “obligations” to her cash-strapped family.
It certainly doesn’t help that their office nemesis, Henry (the rakish Rocco Nacino), is vocal about his intention to get Evelyn fired—and her department dissolved!
Has Evelyn found her Happily Ever After in Zach? It doesn’t take a genius to see where their story is headed—but, it’s hard to warm up to the film’s stodgy pace and forced whimsy as its narrative awkwardly wobbles between its lead characters’ phlegmatic pairing and their ponderous individual back stories.
We watch Zach and Evelyn’s convoluted love story unfold with little affection and romantic traction—which doesn’t bode well for Castro’s eager-beaver rom-com. You see the hard work Rivera puts into her role, but it’s difficult to hide the fact that she is miscast in it—so, she ends up overcompensating with boundless energy that compromises her intimate moments, in which she is seen tearfully “barking” her lines to little effect.
Castro comes up with some inspired touches: We love the heart-warming banter between Evelyn and her younger brother (the promising Ruru Madrid)—which deftly captures the strong bond that binds Filipino families. Also hard to ignore is the appropriately chosen theme song, “I’ll Never Go”—gorgeously and movingly rendered by “Katy’s” Aicelle Santos and Gian Magdangal—that bookends the movie’s romantic sequences.
Sadly, the lovely Marian’s zeal magnifies the blandness of the heftier-than-usual Richard, who treats his role with nonchalance. The uninspired production is further weighed down by a clutter of joyless gags and confounding continuity gaffes.
As for Castro, let’s hope he doesn’t let this lackluster rom-com overwhelm his innately “indie” filmmaking sensibility—after all, while “Juana C. The Movie” was an unsatisfying viewing experience for us, we immensely enjoyed the trippy, cheeky humor of his previous comedic scorchers, “Zombadings 1: Patayin Sa Shokot Si Remington” and “My Kontrabida Girl.” —Win some, lose some.
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